Blueberries Turning Red
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Don Standing
Posted: Before April 1998

Last year I purchased some blueberries from Richters. They didn’t survive, presumably because the soil was not acidic enough. I am trying again this year. The blueberries are now planted and the soil, I hope, suitably prepared. In the last week, the leaves have started to turn red. Are the bushes in danger? If so, are they salvagable?

Blueberries need acidic soils of pH 4.0 to 5.0. This is 100 times more acidic than most garden soils which are between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil must also have excellent drainage, high organic content, and a loose, non- compacted structure. It is good to test your soil pH, and if you are treating it to lower the pH, then test it again to make sure that the the soil pH does not creep back up.

There are two excellent publications available which describe all aspects of blueberry culture: in the U.S., "Commercial Blueberry Growing" (Farmers’ Bulletin No. 2254) is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; in Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs publishes "Blueberries for Home Gardens" (Factsheet No. 78-030). The USDA booklet has the best discussion of diseases that attack blueberry plants.

The red colouration is a stress response. It could be simply a response to transplant shock. If the soil is too alkaline, that will contribute to the stress. There are also diseases such as ‘red leaf’ which is caused by a fungus and is mainly a problem for lowbush blueberries in the New England states. This disease is hard to control and the only solution is destruction of infected plants. Our Richters plants are grown from indexed stock that is free of disease, so it is more likely that your plants are experiencing transplant shock.

Back to Growing Herbs | Q & A Index

Copyright © 1997-2014 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.